Have you heard the term “superfood” before? The concept of superfoods has been trending for a while over social media, but for good reason: they’re essentially foods that are more nutritionally power-packed per serving than regular fruits and veggies. From Acaí, to goji berries, to chia seeds, spirulina, and more, there are an array of incredible superfoods available to help you meet your needs no matter what you fancy — but they’re not always cheap.
How to Afford Superfoods on Any Budget: 10 Foods Not to Miss
When money is tight and the going gets tough, no need to worry: believe it or not, there are plenty of common and affordable superfoods available at supermarkets everywhere. Here are 10 affordable superfoods to look out for next time you head to the grocery store — believe us, you’re just dollars away from your new life filled with nutrient-dense meals!
Sweet potatoes are an incredible food; they’re deliciously sweet, highly affordable, and packed with health benefits. Sweet potatoes are great sources of fiber, the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C, iron, potassium (more than bananas!), magnesium, and vitamin B6 which lowers blood pressure levels and provides nervous system health benefits.
How to enjoy sweet potatoes: Roast them for dinner, bake them for lunch, or even enjoy them at breakfast with cinnamon and some sliced apples. You can also pair them with chickpeas for added protein, such as in these delicious Roasted Chickpea Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Creamy Tahini Sauce. Check out all of these sweet potato recipes to see which ones you’d like to try!
We all know that chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, and thankfully, they’re also very affordable and available at almost every single grocery store nationwide. Chia seeds can be purchased for under $3-4 per pound which breaks down to just cents per serving. Enjoy a tablespoon or two at breakfast, lunch or dinner; they’re tasteless so you can add them to anything.
Chia seeds contain more fiber than a bowl of oatmeal per two tablespoons, more antioxidants than blueberries, they’re rich in calcium, and are loaded with plant-based iron. They are also a complete protein source and high in omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation and keep your heart and brain healthy!
Nutty and delicious, flax seeds are also included with chia seeds, due to their similar nutrition in terms of their fiber and omega-3 content. Both flax and chia seeds are wonderful ways to regulate digestion and make it easier to get enough fiber each day.
Flax also offers a few unique benefits that chia doesn’t have; flax is a natural source of lignan fibers that protect the heart by lowering cholesterol levels in the body and offering cancer protective benefits. Flax seeds are sometimes more affordable than chia seeds, too. Just be sure to consume ground flax seed versus whole flax seeds, since your body doesn’t digest whole flax seeds. You can grind whole flax seeds at home in a coffee grinder. Also be sure to keep your flax in the fridge or freezer since it can go rancid at room temperature.
Simple ways to enjoy chia and flax: Try chia seeds to make chia seed pudding, Anti-Inflammatory Overnight Oatmeal, or just blend them into a smoothie with some frozen fruit. Add flax to your morning bowl of oatmeal, grind your own flax seeds from whole flax seeds, see these Tips for Using Flax and Chia to Replace Eggs in Cooking and Baking, and feel free to include flax seeds in your smoothies, make a homemade pizza crust, or use them in anything else you would like! You can also see more recipes with chia seeds here, and get plenty of ideas to use flax seeds here.
If you’re on a budget, broccoli is one food that you definitely want to include in your diet to increase your nutrition.
Broccoli is high in detoxifying compounds that keep your liver and digestive health in tip-top shape, not to mention it’s a fantastic source of plant-based calcium, fiber, and even protein, believe it or not. It’s also a good source of B vitamins and an excellent source of chlorophyll.
Feel free to buy frozen broccoli, which can be more nutrient-dense than fresh because it’s frozen at peak harvest. Let’s be honest: it’s also easier to cook. Buying frozen means your broccoli will never go bad before you have time to use it, which means you won’t waste any money. Cooking frozen broccoli is easy since there’s no washing or chopping involved.
Ways to enjoy broccoli: Steam broccoli and enjoy it with sweet potatoes, brown rice, regular potatoes, winter squash, beets, onions, garlic, and more. Broccoli also goes perfectly in recipes such as Spicy Carrot Broccoli Dal and Campfire Broccoli and Chickpea Curry. Want more broccoli ideas? Try these broccoli recipes out to see which ones you enjoy the best!
Apples are one of the healthiest foods you can eat and they’re available all year round. While you should opt to buy organic apples whenever possible (non-organic apples contain one of the highest concentrations of pesticides compared to other fruits), that doesn’t mean you have to avoid apples if you can’t afford organic.
Apples are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, and they contain 4 grams of fiber per medium-size fruit, which is more than a cup of spinach or kale! Apples are also great for heart health due to their high pectin content, which is a soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol in the body and helps keep you full longer.
Enjoy apples with these ideas: Apples can serve as part of a healthy filling breakfast or can be paired with sauerkraut for a gut-friendly snack such as in this Sauerkraut Salad With Apples and Walnuts. They can also be baked for a healthy and affordable dessert, such as in this recipe for Autumn Baked Apples.
Don’t let those apples go bad either; bake them into a delicious apple bread such as Apple Cinnamon Coconut Loaf, or toss them in the slow cooker with dates to make your own Slow Cooker Apple Date Butter. Want some apple recipes? Check out these 31 recipes with apples and find more apple recipes here.
While not exactly a food, green tea is very affordable and beneficial for your health. Green tea is one of the most well-studied, health-protective food/beverages you can enjoy for just pennies per serving, and it even helps combat inflammation, and promote alkalinity.
It’s easy to find organic green tea bags in bulk at most superstores these days, so pick up a box and enjoy a cup or two each and every single day. While matcha is a trendy, well-known superfood form of green tea, regular green tea sold in tea bags is also excellent for your health and much cheaper.
Green tea is a well-known source of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been linked to everything from better heart health to weight loss. Green tea also helps combat stress since it’s a natural source of the amino acid, L-theanine which helps you relax. Check out these other five healthy teas that are also affordable superfoods too!
Ways to enjoy green tea: Brew warm green tea and enjoy it warm with a slice of lemon, let a green tea bag steep with filtered water and ice for cold-brew green tea, or use green tea you’ve already made and chilled as the base for a smoothie just as you would any other liquid. Try this Beginner Green Smoothie, for example. No matter how you enjoy green tea, it definitely deserves a spot in your budget!
Years ago, deliciously nutty quinoa would have been too expensive for tight budgets, but you can now find organic quinoa in generic forms at most grocery stores for a few dollars per pound.
Quinoa is a well-known source of plant-based protein, fiber, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and iron. It’s also low in fat, heart-healthy, and gluten-free. White quinoa is typically cheaper than red or black quinoa, so if you’re really pinching pennies, just go for traditional white varieties to save even more money.
How to enjoy quinoa: Quinoa pairs great with affordable root veggies such as sweet potatoes and is really nice with lentils too. Try quinoa in this Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Red Lentil Stew or in this Miso Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes for two tasty and affordable ways to use quinoa. Or, enjoy quinoa in more recipes here!
Bananas are a little-known superfood that you can enjoy whether you’re on a budget or not. Bananas are highly affordable even in organic form costing just over a dollar per bunch. Buy several bunches at a time and let them get really ripe when they’re easier to digest and naturally sweeter.
Bananas are filling thanks to being a natural source of pectin, a soluble fiber found in many fruits that keep your digestive system regular and helps lower cholesterol levels. Bananas are also well-known for their potassium content which supports electrolyte balance in the body, lowers blood pressure, fights bloating, and helps keep your heart healthy.
Bananas even contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin naturally for a happy mood and a reduced sense of depression. Finally, they’re incredible sources of magnesium and vitamin B6 which both lower blood pressure levels, improve energy levels, and support nervous system health.
Enjoy bananas in: smoothies, blend frozen bananas to make homemade ice cream (on the cheap!), bake homemade Healthy Banana Bread or Healthy Peanut Butter and Jelly Banana Bars, add bananas to oatmeal, learn How to Use Bananas to Replace Dairy in Common Recipes, or mash them with peanut butter for a quick and healthy snack. Get more recipes with bananas here!
Whether red, black, green, or brown, all lentils are high in nutritional value and inexpensive per serving. Lentils are one of the best sources of iron you can consume of all legumes, and they’re one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Lentils are also high in plant-based protein with more protein per ounce than steak, and they’re a rich source of magnesium, fiber, and even contain potassium, antioxidants, other trace minerals, and several B vitamins.
Lentils have also been shown to regulate insulin levels, contribute to better cardiovascular health, help regulate digestion and feed healthy gut bacteria, and contribute to a reduced risk of diabetic symptoms.
How to Enjoy Lentils: Red lentils are much smaller and cook up creamier than other varieties, making them a good option if you have trouble digesting lots of beans. They also taste delicious in soups and stews. Brown, green, and black lentils retain more texture and have a somewhat earthier flavor than red lentils. All lentils are similar in nutrition, however, so pick whichever lentil varieties you like.
9. Berries (Especially Frozen)
All varieties of berries are nutrient-dense and can be included in your diet no matter your budget. Buying frozen berries will save you the most money per serving, and don’t worry about frozen berries not being as healthy as fresh varieties; frozen berries are frozen at peak harvest, just like veggies, and retain more nutrition as a result.
Berries are incredibly high in fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants known as anthocyanins, and have been linked to reducing cholesterol, high blood sugar, and even the risk of memory loss. Not to mention, berries are one of the most delicious, lower sugar fruits and they’re easy to add to just about anything.
Enjoy berries with these ideas: Berries are easy to use in smoothies such as Berry Chia Smoothie With Cacao Drizzle and Chocolate Raspberry Protein Smoothie, oatmeal, enjoy these Homemade Raspberry Banana Bars, or use berries to make your own berry jam.
Lastly, oats are jam-packed with nutrition and oh-so-affordable too! Oats are rich in protective beta-glucan fibers that have been shown to protect the body from high cholesterol levels and even help lower cholesterol levels. Oats are also a great source of plant-based iron, potassium, calcium, and even protein, not to mention they’re delicious and so easy to incorporate into any diet.
Choose oats that are rolled or steel-cut for the best benefits and best blood sugar benefits and avoid packed instant oats with added sugars. You can choose organic, gluten-free, or regular oats, and try different varieties to see which ones you prefer and can afford.
Enjoy oats in these delicious recipes: Berry Coconut Smoothie Bowl, Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal, Overnight Oats With Raspberries and Tahini, turn oats into non-dairy milk such as this Simple Vanilla Oat Milk, make overnight oatmeal, cook oats into a thick and creamy porridge before adding berries and some chia seeds, and see all of our oatmeal recipes here for more ideas!
What These 10 Superfoods Can Do for You:
By including these 10 affordable superfoods into your daily routine, you’ll get an incredibly balanced intake of nutrients including muscle-building protein, digestive and heart-friendly fiber, protective antioxidants, health-supporting vitamins, energizing complex carbohydrates, natural sweetness from real fruit, and valuable minerals for optimal energy, too.
Combine a few of these superfoods at each meal if you like, and remember that you can also save money on fruits and veggies by purchasing in-season produce and choosing frozen options over fresh. Want more frugal tips for eating healthy on a plant-based diet? Check out How to Eat a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet for Just $50 Per Week!
If you like articles like this and want more, then we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Healthy Peanut Butter and Jelly Banana Bars